West Auckland Town 4-2 Darlington Town
West Auckland Town came from a goal behind to record their second victory in pre-season with an encouraging performance over Darlington Town.
Despite conceding twice, goals from Anthony Bell, Adam Burnicle and Amar Purewal along with Chris Hunter’s second half header gave West a spirited win in scorching conditions at the Wanted Stadium.
Gary Forrest made four changes from the surprising defeat to Crook Town as Tom Price, Anthony Bell, Purewal and a trialist replaced Mark Bell, Marc Ellison, Liam Hegarty and David Dowson.
It took just six minutes for Darlington to strike as a cross from the right-hand side flew past everyone, following a lapse in concentration, allowing their trialist to convert at the back post.
However, West hit back just four minutes later courtesy of a stunning delivery by Burnicle, as Bell reacted quickest to volley his effort against the ground as it looped over the opposing goalkeeper and into the far corner.
The equaliser lifted spirits as Forrest’s side gained the initiative a quarter of an hour into the tie as Burnicle cleverly twisted and turned before unleashing a fearsome low drive in the bottom corner.
On 32 minutes, West were close to extending their lead as Nathan Fisher’s first-time cross found Purewal unmarked inside the 18-yard box, though despite the forward’s encouraging run, he could only guide his header inches over the bar.
As half-time approached, West asserted their control when Purewal tapped in the rebound from close-range after Fisher’s initial strike was parried onto the post.
After a chaotic first half, the tempo of the game along with the weather began to settle for the start of the second period.
And the visitors went on to suffer further frustration on 62 minutes when an in-swinging corner from Adam Mitchell was delicately touched home by Hunter, who remarkably manoeuvred past multiple defenders to score his first goal in pre-season.
As time began to run out, Darlington added a late consolation through Liam Jarvie though West held on to record an emphatic win and give them a much-needed confidence boost heading into the JR Cleator Cup against Dunston UTS on Saturday (15:00).
West Auckland – Trialist, Mitchell, Hunter, Colquhoun, Dodds (c) (Trialist, 67), Price, Francis (Ellison, 67), Burnicle, Purewal, Fisher (Trialist, 71), Bell
Subs not used – Dowson, Coulson
Goals (West) – Bell (10), Burnicle (28), Purewal (42), Hunter (62)
Goal (Darlington) – Trialist (6), Jarvie (82)
Attendance – 183
Report by Harry Crowe.
Picture by Andy Mitchell.